Summary: "He never actually told the truth, not once, even when everyone that was waiting for him knew exactly why he was late. He just waved, smiled, and gave yet another excuse. It was his habit. His routine. Until the day Naruto went missing." kakanaru MIA fic.

AN: I used one of the prompts for the weekly one-sentence drabble challenge on the kakanaru lj comm...

...and it GREW. And GREW and GREW. Oh dear...

Er, inspired by the MIA fics I read? XD (go read those fics, they are made of Awesome while mine is... made of prompt + fertilizer + rabid plot bunny = large fic carrot + rabid plot bunny = er, very full bunny? o.o)

Prompt used: Excuse

Sorry I'm Late, Did You Think I Was Dead?

It was fact that Hatake Kakashi always quoted his dead friend's excuses for being late, and based his other excuses on them.

The only truly original one was "I got lost on the road of life."

He never actually told the truth, not once, even when everyone that was waiting for him knew exactly why he was late. He just waved, smiled, and gave yet another excuse. It was his habit. His routine.

Until the day Naruto went missing.

He had offered to be the decoy, so that the rest of the team he was working with for that mission could escape. It worked – the others got away.

But actually it failed – Naruto was nowhere to be found. They tried to find him.

They failed.

When Kakashi heard, he immediately turned and headed out the door, throwing behind a single sentence:

"Meet me at the gate in five minutes."

The rest of the Konoha 11 turned up in three, with many more jounin and chuunin and genin (who who were incredibly difficult to shoo away) and even the Godaime Hokage herself (who was even more difficult to turn back) trailing right after. ("What do you mean, I can't go with them? Fine! I'm going to send them off at the very least and whoever disagrees with that can go screw themselves and die dammit!")

He was already waiting there.

With an orange jacket in hand and all eight of his ninken by his side, ready to start tracking.

He was there during every search party, and was early every single time. It was almost as if the chronically late Hatake Kakashi who always gave ridiculous excuses had never existed.

(Because he could only afford to be late when there was Naruto waiting for him but now Naruto was nottheremissinggone and he didn't dare to be late anymore.)

But all the efforts of Naruto's friends were in vain, for there was still no trace of him anywhere... and one-by-one they began to lose hope.

Kakashi kept being punctual, kept waiting for him to come home, kept waiting for the day life could go back to normal and so he could be late again and Naruto would be there to shout "Liar!" when he gave his customary excuse.

The day Uzumaki Naruto was finally declared dead, Kakashi was late for the ceremony.

They waited for him.

Those who wished to play their last respects gathered at the graveyard, in front of the Heart of Fire monument, before they made their way to the KIA Memorial for the name-carving.

Kakashi stumbled in front of the memorial stone, five hours late and clad in his usual attire instead of full black, orange jacket still in hand and looking so hopelessly (nononohecan'treallybedead) lost.

"Sorry I'm late," two voices sounded at the same time.

Kakashi turned slowly, his wide, disbelieving eye meeting a pair of apologetic blue.

"A certain lazy scarecrow's habit must have rubbed off on me – I got lost on the road of life." He grimaced, pressing a hand to his side.

It came away bloody.

"Took me ages to find my way back home... but I'm glad I did eventually, y'know."

Kakashi finally managed to force himself to move. He stumbled forward with a half-choked cry of relief, grabbed the very injured but alive (alivealivealivehe'sreallyALIVE)blond and held him desperately tight.

"I'm sorry I took so long," Naruto murmured. "But hey, at least I get a hug?"

"Idiot," the other man muttered affectionately. "Don't you know I'm the only one who's allowed to be late?"

Wincing slightly, he raised his half-bandaged hand to the man's face, feeling the mask and hitai-ate that were both damp from hidden tears.

"Sorry I kept you waiting. Sorry for the scare. Sorry for everything," he whispered.

"I missed you."

He could feel Kakashi shake, just a little, and the arms around him tightened for a moment. He was glad for the silver-haired jounin's presence and his very comfortable embrace, which were the only things preventing him from crumpling to the ground.

Him and Kakashi both.

"Welcome home, Naruto."

He gave a laugh that was half a sob, and grumbled crossly, "If I start bawling right here right now it's going to be all your fault, you know."


And then the Copy Nin pulled off a rather clumsy Shunshin, taking them both to his apartment. They landed awkwardly, half on the bed and half off it, but Kakashi somehow used himself as a cushion for Naruto when they both tumbled off. There was a muffled "Oof!" and a hurried "You okay?" before the blond found himself carried (with an offended "Oi!" and some flailing) to the bathroom and (gently) dumped in the bathtub.

A good long soak, some healing and a lot of re-bandaging later, Naruto was curled up on the soft bed, smiling sleepily. It felt a little weird to be so pampered by Kakashi all of a sudden.

Weird, but nice.

(Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally nice.)

And Kakashi made for a very very comfortable bolster, too.


Kakashi was always late again after that, but... well... nobody really wanted to hear his excuses any more.

Because, well... they did not want to know.

They really really did not want to know.


(And Naruto's grin told half the story already, anyway.)

The Heart of Fire monument is that red thingy in the graveyard XD

Um, I don't know if it has a name so I gave it one? -shrug-

Hope you liked it! (: